740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Eastern Locarno)/95

The Ambassador in Poland (Cudahy) to the Secretary of State

No. 584

Sir: I have the honor to report that I today discussed with the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Colonel Józef Beck, developments in the foreign relationships of Poland, especially with reference to the proposed Eastern Pact of Mutual Assistance (so-called Eastern Locarno).

The Minister told me that he had conversed with Laval at Geneva on this subject and that while France had shown a conciliatory attitude toward Poland and a desire to meet the objections of the Polish Government to the proposed pact, the outline of the agreement was still so vague and uncertain that Poland could not express assent to becoming a party thereto. He said he could not understand the insistence of the French upon this agreement which is a Russian conception and is really a personal matter with Litvinov who had advanced it without mature consideration. The facts were, he said, that Litvinov had never reduced his ideas to writing, and the scheme is entirely too general in application for serious consideration.

He said that his dealings with Laval had been very satisfactory and very amicable at Geneva and that Laval, reflecting the French Government’s [Page 181] point of view, had displayed none of the animus and unfriendly feeling exhibited toward Poland by the French press. Laval had stressed, he said, the continuance under all circumstances of the Polish-French alliance.

The Minister did not readily reply to my question concerning the attitude of Poland toward rearmament by Germany.24 In answer he first said that he thought that other European powers had shown a manifest lack of good faith in entering a conference for disarmament armed “to the teeth” themselves; that they made no concessions to Germany while insisting that Germany should have no right to arm. When I returned to the question he said that he did not think that the conference between Flandin, Laval, and Sir John Simon25 in London was to be taken too seriously. Most international conferences, he said, to be of any effect had to be entirely arranged and agreed upon in advance so that the conference itself was merely a setting for confirming formally plans already at the point of execution. But this conference in London was one in which nothing had been discussed in advance and everything awaited action. He predicted that in consequence nothing would result.

When I asked my question again about Poland’s attitude toward German rearmament, he said that he thought the French had overestimated the importance to Germany of legalizing German armament. Already much of such armament had been accomplished and Germany would continue to rearm. He did not think the Germans would concede much to France or Great Britain for the legalization of a selfassumed right which they were already exercising and would continue to exercise. He indicated that he thought the French silly and unacquainted with realities if they assumed otherwise. When I pressed for an answer to my question with regard to Poland’s attitude, the Minister said that he could not answer the question until a situation had arisen; that no situation had arisen, but that Poland was opposed to the rearmament of Germany and would put such opposition into practice if it were capable of doing so, but he knew no means whereby it could take measures to stop the military preparations of the Germans.

Asked if the decision of the Polish Government toward the Eastern Pact would wait upon that of Germany, the Minister replied that certainly the decision would not be controlled by the action that might be taken by Germany but that he considered the adherence of Germany to the Pact as absolutely essential to the working validity of the agreement.

He told me I might report to my Government that there have been no developments toward acceptance of the Pact on the part of Poland [Page 182] since my last meeting with him (despatch No. 558, January 11, 193527), and that the attitude of Poland continued to be negative.

In reply to the inquiry as to whether this opposition to France did not further strain French-Polish relations, the Minister said he thought there was a great division of opinion in France concerning its present foreign policy and repeated his statement that his relations with Laval were entirely cordial and satisfactory and that Laval in no way had manifested the ill temper and feeling of animosity that has been exhibited by the French press. He reminded me of a former meeting (despatch No. 449, October 9, 193427), in which he had called attention to the fact that the French press did not represent the sentiment of the French people, and he said that he was never greatly worried by what the French newspapers said.

He said in answer to my question, that if France should sign the Eastern Pact without the adherence to it of Poland and if there should be nothing in the Pact opposed to the international policies of Poland, he would confer his blessing upon this action of France. He smiled with a mock, benign expression and held his hands in a pontifical gesture when he expressed this sentiment.

Respectfully yours,

John Cudahy
  1. See section entitled “German Rearmament, With Unilateral Repudiation of Provisions of the Treaty of Versailles,” vol. ii, pp. 294 ff.
  2. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.